Saint Patrick is the Patron Saint of Ireland and its national Apostle. Born in Roman Britain, he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave at the age of 16. He later escaped, but returned to Ireland and was credited with bringing Christianity to its people.
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on 17 March, the anni of his death in the 5th Century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over 1,000 yrs.
On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Catholic season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink and feast–on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.
In the centuries following Patrick’s death, the mythology surrounding his life became ingrained in the Irish culture: Perhaps the most well-known legend of St. Patrick is that he explained the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) using the 3 leaves of a native Irish clover, the Shamrock.
More than 100 St. Patrick’s Day parades are held across the United States; New York City and Boston are home to the largest celebrations.
The 1st St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland but in America. Records show that a St. Patrick’s Day parade was held on 17 March 1601 in a Spanish colony in what is now St. Augustine, Florida. The parade, and a St. Patrick’s Day celebration a year earlier were organized by the Spanish Colony’s Irish vicar Ricardo Artur.
Then, more than a century later, homesick Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched in New York City on 17 March 1772 to honor the Irish patron saint. Enthusiasm for the St. Patrick’s Day parades in New York City, Boston and other early American cities only grew from there.
In Y 1948, President Harry S. Truman attended New York City‘s St. Patrick’s Day parade, a proud moment for the many Irish Americans whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and prejudice to find acceptance in the New World. Irish immigrants spread out over the United States, other cities developed their own traditions.
Suddenly, annual St. Patrick’s Day parades became a show of strength for Irish Americans, as well as a must-attend event for Irish political candidates.
St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations Around the World
Today, people of all backgrounds celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, especially throughout the United States, Canada and Australia.
Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated around the world in locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore and Russia.
Popular St. Patrick’s Day recipes include Irish soda bread, corned beef and cabbage. In the United States, people often wear Green on St. Patrick’s Day.
In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick’s Day was traditionally been a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970’s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on 17 March. Then, beginning in Y 1995 the Irish government began a national campaign to use interest in St. Patrick’s Day to drive tourism and showcase Ireland and Irish culture to the rest of the world.
“Ireland till the end of time”